With a focus on comfort, durability, and performance, we’ve found the best men’s pants for hiking and trekking.
The legs are the body’s primary mode of transportation, and pants are their first line of defense. Finding the best hiking pants for your objective can keep your legs comfortable, warm (or cool), and abrasion-free, keeping your mind on the trail ahead.
We focused on comfort, durability, construction, performance, and price, relying on the experience of our field testers. These folks tested pants across the Andean cloud forests, deep desert canyons, high mountain peaks, on long-distance trails, and even in everyday use. Pants have such innovative technology, with fabrics that can shed water, block the sun, deflect sharp sticks and rocks, and still perform after years of wear and tear.
While there isn’t a single pair of pants that work for everyone, we’ve tested a variety of pants and broken them down into relevant categories. If you need help determining what you need in your hiking pants, jump to our buyer’s guide at the end of this article.
Scroll through to see all of our recommended buys or jump to the category you’re looking for:
The Best Hiking Pants for Men of 2022
Best Overall Hiking Pants: Outdoor Research Equinox Convertible Pants
The convertible pant is a tough style to pull off without looking like an NPR journalist on a book safari. Fortunately, Outdoor Research released a convertible pant that pulls double duty, winning with both functionality and looks.
The Equinox ($99) has a tailored stretchy nylon fit with deep horizontal pockets to secure your goods. A third zippered thigh pocket rides just below the right front pocket and is large enough to hold your phone without pinching you when you step. Two good-sized rear drop pockets are perfect for quick storage, although not secured. DWR fabric pushes away water and when wet they’ll dry out faster. The fabric even has a UPF 50+ rating, keeping those harmful rays at bay.
What closes the deal is the discreet breakaway bottoms. The zipper pull is tucked cleanly away in a zipper garage and spirals around the thigh to jettison the lower leg. There is no flap of material hanging over the zipper to give away the fact that they zip off. I wore these for a full week and my wife never noticed they were zip-offs until the last day of the trip when I made the grand reveal!
A 9-inch vertical side zipper at the cuff gives you enough room to pull the pant leg over your boots. An extra 3 inches of fabric drapes below the zipper of the shorts, making these a 10-inch short that rides just above the knees. The Equinox’s whole setup is easy to zip on and off and tucks cleanly away for a smooth finish. The fabric never got stuck in the zipper.
The front button snap closure is backed up with an interior drawstring to make them snug, and there are an additional five belt loops if you desire to wear a belt.
Choose these if you get hot easily and like hiking in shorts, but still want versatility. For the convertible skeptics — you know who you are — the Equinox makes the convertible pant look sharp. It’s a feat that makes them some of the best hiking pants on the market today.
- Fabric: 95% nylon, 5% spandex
- Fit: True to size
- Weight: 9.5 oz.
- DWR: Yes
- UPF: 50+
Bottom line: For hikers who are prone to overheating or those who want functionality in variable weather without packing extra clothes.
Best Budget Hiking Pants: Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Pant
Columbia’s Silver Ridge Cargo Pant ($55) is a straightforward cargo pant, made of lightweight nylon ripstop fabric that is not only water-resistant but has added UPF 50+ to block those harmful rays.
Straight lines along the inseam are graced with gusseted construction in the crotch to strengthen and add breadth to the seams. The 5 pockets, including a secure cargo pocket, are deep and you can store a lot of supplies in there with minimal bounce.
They also include an integrated belt, and the extra pockets have ample room to store your phone and a few snacks. You do, however, have to make some concessions at this price. The lightweight material doesn’t have any mechanical stretch or elastic fibers. And it lacks a DWR treatment, so you sacrifice durability, mobility, and weather protection.
While the Silver Ridge skimps on the bells and whistles that make many of the pants on this list better choices for more adventurous trips, the Silver Ridge is less than half the price and often goes on sale.
If you are looking for a convertible option, give Columbia’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pants a look ($70).
- Fabric: 100% nylon
- Fit: True to size
- Weight: N/A
- DWR: No
- UPF: 50+
Bottom line: Lightweight pants for day hikes that don’t break the bank.
Best for Scrambling: Black Diamond Alpine Light
Black Diamond’s roots are in technical climbing gear. They’ve taken what they’ve learned on the mountain to make some of the finest outdoor apparel available. The Alpine Light ($110) speaks to their years of experience, and the overall merits are in its restrained design.
Instead of a belt, the pants fasten with a G-hook that sits off-center and catches on ladder webbing sewn into the waist. Both Arc’Teryx and Seadon use a similar G-hook belt closure, but Black Diamond’s solution is the most secure implementation of the three.
The drawcord around the ankles locks into a slot, pinching the elastic cord. Unlike other pants with drawcords, you can’t pull it with one hand, but the concept is light and the most minimal setup we tested, significantly reducing bulk around the ankles.
For stretch and durability, the material is a combination of nylon and elastane, whose qualities start to shine once you veer off the map. Beyond the trail, you need pants that move with you, deflecting rock and scrub. That’s what terrain Black Diamond feels most comfortable in, and that’s where the Alpine Light delivers.
They have a four-way stretch woven fabric that is water-resistant, lightweight, and incredibly durable for the weight, looking nearly new after months of testing.
The pants have five pockets (two hand and two rear drop-in pockets, with a fifth pocket on the lower right leg). The front pockets aren’t very deep, and the thigh pocket sits low against the knee. This is by design to stay clear of a climbing harness.
If you like to carry lots of items in your pant pockets — particularly a phone in that thigh pocket — this could be a dealbreaker. If the thigh pocket was better positioned, we would have awarded the Alpine Light our choice for the best hiking pant overall.
The Alpine Light is available in general sizes (S, M, L, and XL), with inseams scaling from 31.5 to 33.5 inches. The waist sizing trends small, so if you’re between sizes, we recommend sizing up.
- Fabric: 85% nylon, 15% elastane
- Fit: Slim, true to size
- Weight: 11 oz.
- DWR: Yes
- UPF: No
Bottom line: A fantastic option for everything from moderate trails to summer summits — some of the best hiking pants for a range of adventures.
Best of the Rest
If securing personal items is your primary concern, Jack Wolfskin’s Activate Light Hiking Zip Off Pants ($129) have you covered. With five well-constructed pockets that zip shut to prevent contents from spilling out, your tools and devices will stay safe.
The cargo pockets are deep and very well-positioned, staying snug around the thighs. They effectively keep phones and GPS devices from flopping around.
Generally speaking, many convertible pants have a hard time balancing the taper through the legs with a proper fit. They are often too baggy, or the legs run narrow and bind around the thigh when converted to shorts.
The Active Light strikes a balance of room and functionality. The length is appropriate, and the width throughout the legs is comfortable.
Instead of drawcords around the ankles, the Activate Light uses Velcro to secure the cuff. The simple system reduces bulk and weight and removes the chances of elastic cording catching on passing scrub.
In our experience, hook and loop closures start to fail when gunked up with mud and debris. They also tend to snag on brushed materials like socks. We haven’t experienced this on these pants yet, but we’ll see how they fare over time.
One gripe we did have is the snap closure. It’s not as secure as other pants and pops open fairly easily. A hook-and-loop tab behind the snap helps take the pressure off the snap. And the pants have belt loops if you want to add extra security.
Jack Wolfskin has been producing technical gear in the European market for 40 years, but only recently introduced outdoor wear to stateside buyers. Their Activate Light Zip Off is a legit pant that does nearly everything well. Overall, we really liked these pants and are looking forward to seeing more from Jack Wolfskin.
- Fabric: 94% nylon, 6% elastane
- Fit: True to size
- Weight: 12 oz.
- DWR: Yes
- UPF: 40+
Bottom line: Comfortable convertible pants with lots of secure pockets.
Last year we ranked the Abisko Midsummer Trouser as our best hiking pant overall. It ticked all the boxes: well-placed zippered pockets, ventilation, durability where you need it, and flexibility where you want it. The pants exemplify Scandinavian design with attention to detail through and through.
This year, Fjallraven released a zip-off version ($165) of the Abisko Midsummer. Like on the pant version, the butt and legs are reinforced with a Fjallraven’s G-1000 fabric. These pants are lightweight and durable, and as the name implies, are designed for hot summer days.
To preserve breathability, the pant isn’t treated with a DWR. Though Fjallraven sells a Greenland Wax you can apply for added weather durability. On the backside of the legs, the pants are paired with a breathable, four-way mechanical stretch fabric, pairing mobility with the G-1000’s durability.
Two mesh hand pockets zip up your essentials, and a pair of well-positioned leg pockets ride up front on top of the thighs. Inside the front right pocket is a stretchy mesh sleeve just big enough for a phone.
The pockets are oversized and can swallow a lot of supplies. Overloaded, we found the contents will bounce on the legs, so pack wisely.
Like all of Fjall’s trekking pants, they lack rear pockets. We prefer it this way. Loaded rear pockets can rub on a pack and be uncomfortable when sitting around camp. They are also one of the first parts of a pant to wear out.
The zip-off zippers add 2 ounces to the convertible pants over the straight trousers, but give you the added ventilation of shorts for those hot summer days. If you don’t want to show that much leg, simply pull the cuffs over your calves and cinch them with the drawcord.
The Midsummers come in European sizes, and we found they run large, so you’ll want to consult the size guide when buying. If you buy them at one of Fjallraven’s brick-and-mortar stores, the brand will hem them for free, giving you a fully tailored fit.
While these pants are more durable than Jack Wolfskins, the larger fit and pocket bulk work against the pant, so we put them lower on the list.
They’re not the cheapest hiking pants available, but the quality and aesthetics make the Abisko Midsummers a worthwhile investment.
- Fabric: 65% polyester, 35% cotton
- Fit: Runs large
- Weight: 12 oz.
- DWR: Reinforced G-1000 patches can be waxed
- UPF: No
Bottom line: Anyone willing to invest in a pair of long-lasting trekking pants will love these.
We’ve been wearing an original version of this pant for nearly 20 years, taking it rock climbing, mountaineering, bushwhacking, spring crud skiing, and cross-country running. The pocket zipper has pulled off, and the DWR has worn away, but the pant material is still — by nearly every measure — as good as new. They’re virtually bombproof.
The Gamma LT ($180) has only improved in the years since its inception. Arc’teryx has put a cord inside the pant hem, updated the belt, and sewn in a thigh map pocket. It’s seen a recent upgrade in materials, but still brings four-way stretch with snag-proof protection. Only now they have a more comfortable skin-facing side.
Unfortunately, the price is nearly twice that of the other pants on the list. Breathability is low, and the fabric is fairly noisy. But these are acceptable sacrifices for more vertical endeavors, particularly hiking and climbing in wet conditions.
- Fabric: 88% nylon, 12% elastane
- Fit: True to size
- Weight: 12 oz.
- DWR: Yes
- UPF: No
Bottom line: For climbers and hikers who push their pants to the limit. They’re well-suited to wet conditions.
At 7.5 ounces, Mammut’s Hiking Pants ($120) are the lightest hiking pants on the list. A lot of that weight can be chalked up to less material. While the waist feels true to size (even slightly large), the Alpine Lightweight Hikers taper through the legs.
Even though there’s some spandex woven into the material, they don’t offer as much mobility as other pants on the list. They tend to restrict the legs when, for instance, high-stepping over boulder fields.
The lightweight yarn breathes very well and is suitable for hot-weather hikes. With pockets constructed entirely of mesh, they work effectively as vents. Unfortunately, the ankles don’t have a drawcord to keep them pinned over the calves, so you’ll have to roll them up instead.
Treated with a robust DWR, water and spray roll off the fabric. And if they do get soaked, they dry out very quickly.
The hand pockets are shallow and tend to dump their contents when seated in the car. Fortunately, all three pockets are zipped.
While the pants have belt loops, they don’t come with a belt and run wider in the waist. This becomes more critical as you lose weight on long hikes or are wearing a pack.
- Fabric: 94% polyamide, 6% spandex
- Fit: Runs slim around the legs, wider in waist
- Weight: 7.5 oz.
- DWR: Yes
- UPF: No
Bottom line: A great choice for hiking in hot temperatures and trips where every ounce counts.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our seasoned gear writer, Justin La Vigne, has backpacked over 7,000 miles, including thru-hikes of the Appalachian Trail and Te Araroa in New Zealand. He also has a passion for mountaineering, having spent time in the North Cascades on Mt. Hood and Mt. Rainier, as well as Denali in Alaska.
He has a different pair of pants for all of his outdoor endeavors, and for each season’s challenges. He’s pushed pants to their limits to hone in on their best utility. Justin lives outside Denali National Park, and when not writing, you can find him guiding adventurous visitors throughout the vast wilderness of Alaska.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Hiking Pants
Pant Length & Versatility
Hiking pants come in three main options: full-length, convertible, and roll-up. Full-length pants are a great option for complete leg protection, even in the summer. To combat overheating, most pants have mesh pockets or vents that provide ventilation.
Convertible pants are the ultimate 2-in-1. The legs zip off and can be worn as shorts or pants. They’re a great option for variable weather and multiday hikes where you want more options and less gear to pack, but it’s tough to find a pair that doesn’t look goofy.
The Outdoor Research Equinox Convertible Pants were our top pick for not just looks but also functionality. They also allow you to pull the legs off over your boots with a half-leg zip to above your calf.
Somewhere in between full-length and convertible lie roll-up pants. These have a tab, button, or drawcord that secures the cuff when rolled up.
The alpine-centric Arc’teryx Gamma LT is a heavier, more durable model that we’d hesitate to wear on the hottest summer days, but they also feature useful drawcords on the cuffs, so it’s easy to pull them up and get some airflow on the calves.
Drawcords around the ankles can keep the cuffs secured up around the legs. Pants without them will need to be rolled up.
Being able to move freely in hiking pants is a major concern. Whether running down the trail or scrambling up a rocky patch, you don’t want your pants restricting your movement.
This is where design features like a gusseted crotch, articulated knees, and stretchy materials prove useful. And because every body is shaped differently, it can be helpful to try on a few pairs before buying to ensure a snug (but comfortable) fit.
Some pants, like the Lightweight Hikers from Mammut, run slim and restrict movement. Conversely, we found that Black Diamond’s Alpine Light strikes a perfect balance of lightweight durability and mobility.
Just because you’re wearing pants doesn’t mean you’re safe from the sun’s damaging rays. If you are hiking on extremely sunny days, look for pants with rated UPF protection of 40 or 50.
A DWR coating doesn’t make pants completely waterproof, but it adds enough wet-weather protection to keep you dry while hiking through dewy brush or in light showers. DWR keeps water droplets on the exterior, allowing them to simply roll off.
DWRs will eventually wash out over time. For optimal performance, you’ll want to treat heavily used hiking pants on occasion. Nikwax Softshell Proof Wash-In is an easy way to keep your pants repelling water year after year.
And if you don’t want pants with DWR, the Fjallraven Abisko Midsummer is a great option. Fjallraven steers clear of DWR and instead sells an aftermarket wax that you can apply to beef up the water resistance.
These additions start to creep up the cost of pants. Our budget choice, Columbia’s Silver Ridge Cargo Pant, doesn’t have a DWR. But it has UV protection and is an incredible value.
Additional Features for Hiking Pants
The little extras can really make or break a good pair of pants. Well-positioned cargo pockets, zippered pockets, belt loops, and built-in belts are some of the features available. Whether you want these or not depends on your personal hiking plans and style.
What Type of Pants Are Best for Hiking?
It truly depends on where you are going (dry desert, humid forest, bushwhacking), how long you will be out (hours, days, weeks, months), what the weather will be like, and your personal preference. We laid out plenty of options above that cover these variables.
For long-term use, you should be looking for a pair of pants that have durability, can repel water or dry out quickly, and has features you want (pockets, belt, leg zip-offs). It’s better to consider these options initially, even if you end up dishing out more money. The best hiking pants are the ones that meet your unique needs.
Should I Wear Pants While Hiking?
Again, this is a personal preference. I hiked with a guy on the Appalachian Trail who only wore shorts for the 2,000+ miles, no matter the weather. In contrast, I mainly wear pants to protect against mosquitoes, sun, and abrasions. If it’s really hot, I convert my zip-offs.
If you’re in the Sonoran desert where temps are scorching you may want the option to convert to shorts, so cut-offs like the Outdoor Research Equinox Convertible Pants may be your best option. If you’re blazing through thick brush in the Alaskan backcountry, you definitely need to protect your legs from getting cut up, so the Fjallraven Abisko Midsummer Zip Off Trousers do the trick.
Do Hiking Pants Matter?
Do tires for your car matter? Go ahead and hike in your work pants, jeans, or sweatpants, and then try a technical pair from the list above — that should answer your question. If you are just getting started, try a pair of less expensive pants like the Columbia Silver Ridge Cargo Pant, then work your way up as you determine what features you’d prefer.
Is It OK to Hike in Jeans?
Jeans are not the best option because they are made of cotton and cotton does not wick away moisture. They’re also not breathable, have no stretch, and are quite heavy. In general, you’ll want to stay away from clothing made of cotton, linen, denim, or anything stiff.
What Should I Wear When Going Hiking in the Summer?
It’s always best to wear/pack layers when hiking. You want to think of your body as an onion with the option to layer down. Loose clothing with breathability is ideal, ensuring that you’ll stay cool and wick away moisture. Having clothing that has UPF of 40-50 within the blend of materials can help with avoiding sunburn.
If you’re in buggy areas, having clothing with or treating your clothing with some type of bug repellent can help keep those pesky mosquitos, ticks, and sandflies away. Lastly, color is important. Keep your clothing, including your pants, on the lighter side, such as light beige, gray, or cream. Darker colors tend to absorb heat, while lighter colors reflect it.